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No Me Importa... Estoy Feliz

My response to most questions in Cozumel ... Emilie, what kind of beer do you want? Where do you want to go to eat? Do you want to go out? "I don't care, I'm happy any way."

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I cry every time I leave Cozumel. Usually it starts the night before - I literally have a photo album home at my dad’s where I’m crying in every picture throughout my last night there. I’m not sure why we continued taking pictures - it wasn’t pretty. This time was no different - I cried… may have even shed a tear or two while I write this at the foot of beautiful Laguna Bacalar, but the sentiment this time is different. I had such an amazing time this week that the tears are both happy and sad.

There is something about leaving behind a place and people you love - even when you’re returning to something that you also love, or in this case, continuing on to new adventures. I fell into a routine and a rhythm with Mony’s family.

I had my own bedroom, larger than my one at home, my own bathroom, also a luxury and direct access to the backyard, complete with my hammock, under an orange tree which I utilized solely for napping. Each morning, I would wake up to the smell of something delicious cooking and the neighborhood vendors making their way down the calles with tunes, not unlike an ice cream truck. I would ultimately get up, go for a run to my favorite swimming spot, La Culetita, snorkel for a clip and then run back. After day 2, Monica’s mom knew that I was never hungry right when I got up, so she prepared something for me upon my return. Then she would resume her pinata construction which evolved over the course of the week that I was there.


I would then meet her aunt, Tuly to either pick her son, Joshua, an adorable little nugget from school or meet her later at Pistos, Monica's bar. I’d return home for an afternoon snack with her parents and a siesta and usually get up in time to hear her knocking that she was home from work. Meal time was spent chatting about life in NYC, Puerta Vallarta, Cozumel, California and life lessons in between. Life was pretty easy and great. And I love her parents.

My debit card was scheduled to arrive on Monday but I figured I wouldn’t have it in my hands until Tuesday. Tuly casually (read: persuasively) reminded me that Tuesdays are family days for the Palacios. All of their businesses are closed so they usually organize an activity (going to the beach) and that she would come out with Mony and me that night since Pistos was closed. And so, obviously, I agreed to stay until Wednesday.

We woke up on Tuesday, made ceviche de vallarta (lime, carrots, olives, onion, cilantro) with both fish and caracol (conch). We waited until Joshua was done with school, gathered up the kids, opened some Modelos and headed off to beach.


The day was filled with laughs, cerveza, swimming and ceviche. We made fun of Tuly for cowering in the shade; she reminded us that she was constantly fighting with the sun; I jumped off the end of the dock as many times as I could and we watched the sunset as we left the beach.


Later we hit the town and I reminded Tuly and Mony that I planned to leave for Playa del Carmen in the evening on Wednesday to catch an early bus to Bacalar.


I made an executive (drunken) decision that I would leave in the afternoon and told Monica to say goodbye to me in the morning just in case. She woke me up before she left for work and said goodbye. Then, for the first time of many during that day, I changed my mind and decided to stay until she at least got out of work. I got up several hours later and wandered around Cozumel in search of regalitos (gifts) for the ladies and Mony’s dad. I settled on a pair of earrings for her mom, a pearl(ish) bracelet for Tuly, and a braided bracelet for Mony of which I bought myself a duplicate. I never take my two braided bracelets from Nicaragua off - they both signify a time in my life for me and one from Cozumel for the two of us seemed just right. For her dad, he had said he loved Italian bruschetta so I hustled to the grocery for the ingredients and assembled it at home.

All day I struggled with whether I would go to Playa after saying one last goodbye to Mony or staying for the night and catching the morning ferry. I wasn’t sure what the right decision was. I made it to my afternoon stop at Pistos as they cleaned and readied for the night. Tuly admonished me “Emil-LEE no te vayas a Playa en la noche, es peligroso.” I agreed that it was probably not my best use of judgement and told her I would stay for the night and leave in the morning. Just as I confirmed this, Mony’s friend, Pato (see previous post), sent me a WhatsApp that he was heading to Playa in the evening and wanted to see if I wanted to grab something to eat before he left. This was it - finally, my sign - I should leave for Playa that night. Tuly gave me her stamp of approval that since I had an escort, I was free to head out that evening. I rushed home to assemble the bruschetta, the regalos and pack.

Mony’s mom walked into my room, surveyed the situation and asked me what I was doing. I told her that I was planning to leave that evening once Monica got home and go to Playa with Pato. She gave me a severe side eye and said “Ok, buena hija…” letting it trail off as she went into the backyard. It was the equivalent of Travis’ response to me (you stupid bitch… lovingly of course) when I ask him dumb questions - like how does one tease their hair?


This was my sign. I had made the wrong decision. Her side eye is fierce. There was something of a fiesta happening in the living room - Mony’s nephew had come over with tequila. I grabbed my phone without responding to anyone about where I was going and ran off to Pistos (also known as my internet cafe). I manana-ed Pato (see previous post), apologizing and saying that I would be leaving in the morning instead of with him that night. I went back to the house, announced that I was staying and was greeted with tequila shots while we enjoyed the bruschetta that I had made.

Mony and I headed to Pistos for one final night - an early one - we promised ourselves. It was anything but as they were down a server. I donned a Pistos shirt and helped wait tables. It was pay day in Cozumel and people were really going ham on the booze. We made fun of the “sala de dormidos” - the people sleeping in the couches in the corner, hypothesized future boyfriends for all of us - or in my case, a girlfriend as I had a woman get pretty friendly with the new Pistos server - and got everyone out by 4:00. So much for the early night.

I cried myself to sleep, woke up three hours later for the ferry, cried during the whole ferry even while there was a live band which was festive and fun and eventually pulled myself together for the bus ride to Bacalar - which is spectacular by the way. But it’s a quiet, sleepy town as I knew it would be and makes me miss my Cozumel family all the more. Right now as I write this, Mony is hopefully catching up on the sleep she lost during my presence, her mom is sending her dad off to work at his bar and Tuly and co are awaiting the late evening crowd at Pistos.

I know this post is long but the last week I had is so important and valuable to me, I didn’t really want to leave anything out.

I’ve long said that Cozumel has a piece of my heart and this again soldified that notion - but it wouldn’t have such a big piece were it not for Mony and her family. They showed me such hospitality ten years ago and this week was above and beyond. I am wildly appreciative of everything - to be included in the festivities and activites but recognized as more than just a friend of Mony’s. Her mom referred to me as “hija” (daughter) affectionately throughout the week. Tuly made sure my time was occupied and that my hand was never empty - water, beer, food, clothes, you name it. Her dad gave me several recommendations about where to go next and how to go about my travel.

True friends are the ones that you might not always see or talk to but can pick up right where you left off just the same. Both of us have grown up and matured since we saw each other last but the dynamic was exactly the same. I miss all of them dearly and have promised myself that this time, ten years between visits will not lapse. I think even my dad can agree that it is a blessing Monica offered under-age Travis and me shots which we “begrudgingly” agreed to. What a missed opportunity of a beautiful friendship that would’ve been if she hadn’t. :)


Yes, Laura Semon, that is me, wearing a sports bar at a Mexican discoteque. Blame Travis.

Posted by emlehan 09:25 Archived in Mexico Tagged cozumel

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I owe you another response, but I haven't seen you write anything for a while, and I would like to read more. This was a really nice post. And your experience was fantastic, with real people that care about you. Also you ate more great food and were only drunk a fraction, albeit a dominant fraction, of the time. :)

Keep sharing, friend.

by aaronajds

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